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For several years, I’ve been writing about Bushenfreude, the phenomenon of angry yuppies—who’ve hugely benefited from President Bush’s tax cuts—funding angry, populist Democratic campaigns. I’ve theorized that people who work in financial services and related fields have become so outraged and alienated by the incompetence, crass social conservatism, and repeated insults to the nation’s intelligence, of the Bush-era Republican Party, that they’re voting with their hearts and heads instead of their wallets.

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Last week’s election was perhaps Bushenfreude’s grandest day. As the campaign entered its final weeks, Barack Obama, who pledged to unite the country, singled out one group of people for ridicule: those making more than $250,000. At his rallies, he would ask for a show of hands of those making less than one-quarter of $1 million per year. Then he’d look around, laugh, and note that those in the virtuous majority would get their taxes cut, while the rich among them would be hit with a tax increase. And yet the exit polls show, the rich—and yes, if you make $250,000 or more you’re rich—went for Obama by bigger margins than did the merely well-off. If the exit polls are to be believed, those making $200,000 or more (6 percent of the electorate) voted for Obama 52-46, while McCain won the merely well-off ($100,000 to $150,000 by a 51-48 margin and $150,000 to $200,000 by a 50-48 margin).

Right-wingers tend to dismiss such numbers as the voting behavior of trust funders or gazillionaires—people who have so much money that they just don’t care about taxes. That may explain a portion of Bushenfreude. But there just aren’t that many trust funders out there. Rather, it’s clear that the nation’s mass affluent—Steve the lawyer, Colby the financial services executive, Ari the highly paid media big shot—are trending Democratic, especially on the coasts. Indeed, Bushenfreude is not necessarily a nationwide phenomenon. As Andrew Gelman notes in the book “Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State,” the rich in poor states are likely to stick with the Republicans.

But in the ground zero of Bushenfreude, Fairfield County, Conn., it was practically an epidemic last week. Bushenfreude’s most prominent victim was Rep. Chris Shays, the last Republican congressman east of the Hudson River. For the past several cycles, Shays, who played a moderate in his home district but was mainly an enabler of the Bush-DeLay Republicans in Washington, fended off well-financed challengers with relative ease. Last week, he fell victim to Jim Himes. Himes, as this New York Times profile shows, is the ultimate self-made, pissed-off yuppie: a member of Harvard’s crew team, a Rhodes Scholar, a former Goldman Sachs banker, and a resident of Greenwich.

Shays claims he was done in by a Democratic tsunami in Fairfield County and the state. And Connecticut’s county results show Obama ran up a huge 59-41 margin in the county, which includes Bridgeport and Norwalk—densely populated cities with large poor, minority, and working-class populations. But an examination of the presidential votes in several of Fairfield County’s wealthier districts (here are Connecticut’s votes by town) shows the yuppies came out in the thousands to vote for a candidate who pledged to raise their taxes. In the fall of 2003, I first detected Bushenfreude in Westport (No. 5 on Money’s list of 25 wealthiest American towns). The telltale symptom: Howard Dean signs stacked in the back of a brand-new BMW. The signs of an outbreak were legion this year. On our route to school, my kids would count the number of yard signs for Obama and McCain (the results: 6-to-1). On the Saturday morning before the election, I stopped by the Westport Republican headquarters to pick up some McCain-Palin buttons, only to find it locked. On Election Day, Westport voters went for Obama by a 65-35 margin. (That’s bigger than the 60-40 margin Kerry won here in 2004.) Bushenfreude spread from Westport to neighboring towns. In Wilton, just to the north, which Bush carried comfortably in 2004, Obama won 54 percent of the vote.

Perhaps most surprising was the result from Greenwich, Conn. The Versailles of the tri-state metro area, the most golden of the region’s gilded suburbs, the childhood home of George H.W. Bush, went for Obama by a 54-46 margin—the first time Greenwich went Democratic since 1964. Who knew the back-country estates and shoreline mansions were populated with so many traitors to their class? (In the 2004 cage match of New England-born, Yalie aristocrats, George W. Bush beat Kerry 53-47 in Greenwich.) Some towns in Fairfield County were clearly inoculated from Bushenfreude. In New Canaan and Darien, which ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in Money’s list of 25 wealthiest towns, McCain-Palin won by decent majorities. (In both towns, however, the Republican margins were down significantly from 2004.) What’s the difference between these towns and their neighbors? Well, New Canaan and Darien are wealthier than their sister towns in Fairfield County. (In both, the median income is well more than $200,000.) So perhaps the concern about taxes is more acute there. Another possible explanation is that these towns differ demographically from places like Greenwich and Westport, in that they are less Jewish, and Jews voted heavily for Obama.

While there has been job loss and economic anxiety throughout Fairfield County, I don’t think that economic problems alone explain the big Democratic gains in the region. In Greenwich, economic stress for many people means flying commercial or selling the ski house (while maintaining the summer house on Nantucket). There’s something deeper going on when a town that is home to corporate CEOs, professional athletes, hedge-fund managers, and private-equity barons—the people who gained the most, financially, under the Bush years and who would seem to have the most to lose financially under an Obama administration—flips into the Democratic column. Somewhere in the back country, in a 14,000-square-foot writer’s garret, an erstwhile hedge-fund manager is dictating a book proposal to his assistant, a former senior editor at Fortune who just took a buyout, that explains why many of the wealthy choose to vote for a Democrat, in plain violation of their economic self-interest. Working title: What’s the Matter With Greenwich?

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ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sarah Palin has returned to Alaska fully recast and amplified.

Adored by many national conservatives, Ms. Palin is a prospect for a presidential run in 2012, supporters say. Caricatured by opponents, she is a candidate for political oblivion, say others.

Regardless, Ms. Palin told reporters the day after Election Day, “This has been all positive for me.”

Alaska, too, has been recast and amplified in the 10 weeks since Ms. Palin soared to national prominence as the Republican nominee for vice president, and the process has not necessarily been all positive.

Oil prices, which provide the bulk of state revenue, were well over $100 a barrel in late August when Ms. Palin left to campaign with Senator John McCain. Now they are slumming south of $60 a barrel, below the level required to balance the state budget. Increased scrutiny of Ms. Palin’s time as governor often painted an unflattering portrait of her administration. Investigative news reports have portrayed Ms. Palin as being consumed with personal matters and vindictiveness, particularly in the controversy over the firing of her public safety commissioner in what has become known as Troopergate.

Many Democrats, her allies in passing key legislation to raise taxes on oil companies and spur development of a natural gas pipeline, are outraged by her partisan attacks on now President-elect Barack Obama and on the tactics of the McCain-Palin campaign here at home.

Within the state’s Republican establishment — never Ms. Palin’s comfort zone — there is tension over the fate of Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted last month of failing to disclose gifts and free home renovations he received. Ms. Palin called on Mr. Stevens to resign even as state Republicans urged his re-election. A preliminary vote count suggests he could win a seventh full term.

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Even if Mr. Stevens wins, he could still be forced to resign, and Ms. Palin is widely viewed as a strong candidate to win his seat in the special election that would have to be held to replace him.

Ms. Palin has largely dodged questions about her long-term political future, and as she gets back to governing full time, few people know what to expect from her in the immediate future.

“She’s coming back to a whole different world from when she left,” said State Representative John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole who is chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. “If she comes back with a puffed up ego there’s going to be problems. But if she comes back ready to work, that will be better.”

Ms. Palin, in an interview in her office on Friday, said she was ready to work.

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“Now we kick in that fiscal conservativeness that needs to be engaged, and we progress this state with $57-a-barrel oil,” Ms. Palin said. She said the state would have to “be prudent with public dollars and provide services more efficiently than have ever been provided in the state of Alaska before.”

The price and production of oil determines state finances: taxes on oil bring in about 85 percent of state revenue. To balance the budget for the 2008-9 fiscal year, the price of oil needs to average $74 over the 12 months, said Karen J. Rehfeld, director of the state office of management and budget. If it falls below that average, the state could have to make emergency cuts or dip into a reserve account that contains several billion dollars. High prices early in the fiscal year may help keep the average up this year, but next year is another matter.

Ms. Palin, first elected governor in 2006, has governed only in times of budget surpluses, and lawmakers said they had many questions about how she would lead now.

“I just don’t know what kind of philosophy she’s going to have when she comes back,” said State Representative John Harris, a Republican and the departing House speaker.

Noting that his chief of staff, John Bitney, was once the governor’s legislative director, Mr. Harris added, “We were just trying to figure out what kind of policy things the governor may want to address and we were kind of scratching our heads, because we don’t know.”

Mr. Harris was among several lawmakers who questioned whether Ms. Palin would spend the rest of her term, which ends in 2010, positioning herself to run for national office. Would she pursue a socially conservative agenda, promoting bills to restrict abortion or gay rights, issues she largely passed on in her first two years in office because she was trying to win support from Democrats on other issues? Would she move to the center? Would she continue to rail against “the old boy network,” stoking her reformist image at the expense of her fellow Republicans, whose party has been tarnished by corruption scandals, including that of Mr. Stevens?

Ms. Palin rejected the idea that she would be playing to a larger audience.

“My actions will continue to be first and foremost in good service to the state of Alaska,” she said in the interview.

But other than suggesting that cost cuts were to come, Ms. Palin did not hint at a broader agenda.

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The governor is due to submit her 2009-10 budget next month, and neither she nor her aides offered specifics about what it might contain. The McCain-Palin campaign portrayed Ms. Palin as an energy expert, and one top priority Ms. Palin expressed well before she was selected to run for the vice presidency was to improve energy sources for different parts of the state. That includes finding cheaper sources of energy for rural villages, which often rely on inefficient diesel power, as well as for cities like Fairbanks, the state’s second largest, where utilities rely on oil and coal.

The state also faces questions over issues like financing Medicaid, increasing mining in environmentally sensitive areas and spending on transportation projects, as well as the complex negotiations involved in trying to develop the gas pipeline with the cooperation of the same oil companies whose taxes Ms. Palin has raised.

Ms. Palin’s partisanship on the campaign trail may be what most surprised people at home.

“She’s coming back to a divided state, where Democrats had supported her but they watched her for two months call the president-elect of the United States a terrorist sympathizer,” said State Representative Les Gara, Democratic of Anchorage. “She called him a socialist.”

Her partisanship also surprised some conservative Republicans, who were accustomed to feeling ignored while Ms. Palin nurtured alliances with Democrats and moderate Republicans. Now, some Republicans who have been at odds with Ms. Palin in the past are wondering if her partisan tone on the campaign trail might mean they will have her ear more than before.

“It appears that way,” said Mr. Coghill, the Republican from North Pole. Mr. Coghill said Ms. Palin’s emphasis on socially conservative issues on the campaign trail has helped persuade him that now is the time to ask Ms. Palin to actively support a bill that would require minors seeking abortions to notify their parents in advance.

“There are some people in our caucus who are skeptical” that Ms. Palin might ally herself more with Republicans now, Mr. Coghill said. “But they’re willing to take the chance, to step up and play.”

Ms. Palin suggested in the interview that how she ran for vice president would not shape how she governs Alaska.

“If anybody wants to try to criticize and say, ‘Oh, all of a sudden she’s an obsessive partisan,’ they’re wrong,” she said.

But she did allow that she thinks beyond her current role.

“Around every corner is something new,” Ms. Palin said, “so I look forward to seeing what happens next. But for now, it’s great to be back in the governor’s office.”

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At a Mac Kain rally Arnie says he wants to get some meat on Obama’s bones. He also offered to put some muscle on Obama’s ideas (cough). After the muscle jokes – he went on the Mac Kain talking points attack-of-the-week – which was that Obama or his plan to raise taxes on the top 5% was socialist – and although he had to put up tax in his State of Kalifornia – that was different – because when he was a young man he left his socialist leaning country Austria for the US Land of the Free (via Britain?) —
but what he might have said – forget about the fact that the US government now owns the banks, has ploughed $700bn to prop up Wall Street – but giving that little guy – the poor and middle class worker a measly tax break – is wrong and socialist. Those poor people should be made to stand up on their own two feet – no help from government with their lives – aahh.. and what about the help given to the banks and Wall Street and those tax cuts for Exxon Mobil and other corporations under the Mac Kain plan? 

In support of Mac Kain’s theories ( or was that Joe the Plumber’s theories) Arnie talked about his old country being somewhat socialist – so lets have a look at Arnie’s old country Austria and compare it to the US Land of the Free – to see how things turned out.

Conclusion: below (look out for per capita income)

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The Alt Country – Austria

Type:

    Federal parliamentary democracy.

Constitution:

    1920; revised 1929 (reinstated May 1, 1945).

Branches:

    Executive–federal president (chief of state), chancellor (head of government), cabinet. Legislative–bicameral Federal Assembly (Parliament). Judicial–Constitutional Court, Administrative Court, Supreme Court.

Political parties:

    Social Democratic Party, People’s Party, Freedom Party, Greens, Alliance–Future-Austria.

Suffrage:

    Universal over 16 (reduced from 18 in 2007).

Administrative subdivisions:

    Nine Bundeslander (federal states).

Defense (2007):

    0.8% of GDP.

Economy
GDP (2007):

    $373.6 billion.

Real GDP growth rate (2007):

    3.4%.

Per capita income (2007):

    $44,890.

Natural resources:

    Iron ore, crude oil, natural gas, timber, tungsten, magnesite, lignite, cement.

Agriculture (1.9% of 2007 GDP):

    Products–livestock, forest products, grains, sugarbeets, potatoes.

Industry (31.2% of 2007 GDP):

    Types–iron and steel, chemicals, capital equipment, consumer goods.

Services:

    66.9% of 2007 GDP.

Trade (2007):

    Exports–$156.4 billion: iron and steel products, timber, paper, textiles, electrotechnical machinery, chemical products, foodstuffs.

Imports–$155.9 billion:

    machinery, vehicles, chemicals, iron and steel, metal goods, fuels, raw materials, foodstuffs. Principal trade partners–European Union, Switzerland, U.S., and China.

Data: US State Dept

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The Neu Country – The U.S.A Land of Opportunity and a great Movie Industry 

GDP (purchasing power parity):

    $13.78 trillion (2007 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

    $13.84 trillion (2007 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:

    2% (2007 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):

    $45,800 (2007 est.)

GDP – composition by sector:

    agriculture: 1.2%
    industry: 19.8%
    services: 79% (2007 est.)

Labor force:

    153.1 million (includes unemployed) (2007 est.)

Labor force – by occupation:

    farming, forestry, and fishing 0.6%, manufacturing, extraction, transportation, and crafts 22.6%, managerial, professional, and technical 35.5%, sales and office 24.8%, other services 16.5%

The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $46,000. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products.

US Data: CIA Factbook

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Conclusion: You are sooo much better off in the U.S. as the average person makes $910 more per year than they do in Austria – where things are really bad – because they have socialist policies. Those poor Austrians!

Compare this to the income / person in Mexico:  $12,400 (2007 est.)

Or per capita income of Canada: $38,600 (2007 est.)

What is Arnie talking about !!

It’s the politics of fear.

McCain squirms as he watches a recording of himself which contradicts his own socialist argument – this showdown takes place around 2nd and 3rd minutes in.

To John McCain $25 bn for car makers ~ is not corporate welfare – but a small drop in that bucket to the poorest workers – is a government hand out – is welfare. I think McCain has got a problem with small checks ~ he likes to write the big ones to the big boys. At least that’s the new John McCain – the old John McCain back in 2000 had a very different view:

Here’s a more complete clip on exactly what McCain believed back in 2000 about ‘spreading the wealth around’ to the middle class.

To be fair Obama ~ likely as State Senator – wrote a letter warning about the mortgage crisis he saw looming. There was a vote to rein in Freddie and Fannie ~ but if Barack Obama wasn’t a US Senator at the time he could have nothing to do with it – besides express his concerns in a letter.

But the Republicans have been all for shipping jobs overseas – when John Kerry was talking about these things during the last election – remember – getting the workers to unbolt the factory which was then put on a ship to China – on Fox News – those weekend business programs – a couple of the panel were openly laughing at people losing their jobs to China – their argument was that if you want to make money – on the stock market – that that’s what needs to happen.

Isn’t understandable that if people don’t have a job – then they can’t pay their mortgages. Doh!

No one is laughing over there now – since the mortgage wave has started a tsunami which has hit their beloved Wall Street.

All in all what it does say is that no one can have it all – people are losing their homes in wealthy neighborhoods surely that had nothing to do with bad mortgages – sold to the poor.

By deregulating the market as John Mccain was proud espouse – until he woke up that one morning and found that the economy wasn’t fundamentally strong – was like giving the child all candy – because he likes it. But eating vegetables is important for growth. By placing Wall Street in a position to operate unregulated – so that they can act more freely to rake in more profits – they forget about the people on Main Street – the vegetables ~ were these people making money too? A corporation can try to make more and more profit ~ but are things like health care getting too expensive – causing people to go broke paying it. And with all the jobs over in China you increase profits – but Joe the plumber doesn’t have a job – as no one can afford his services.

That’s the Republican’s trickle down idea – but the Democrats idea is to build the economy from the bottom up and pay down the debt as you go – like Clinton did – when we witnessed the largest economy growth in US history ever.

McCain we hear is more that partial to a game of craps – but where’s the gambling man’s winnings and losses – accounted for on his tax returns? Is McCain being dishonest? Has McCain acted legally?

Senator John McCain is a gambler. If I’d known that right away I would have immediately seen what was wrong with his tax returns.

I am a tax attorney, so a tax return means more to me than it would to most. I reviewed McCain’s tax returns as a basic check on the candidates. You can look at McCain’s 2006 and 2007 tax returns for yourself. The tax returns are below a lot of verbiage about his charitable activities.

According to a New York Times article of September 27, 2008 “For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling,” reported by Jo Becker and Don VanNatta Jr., McCain gambled at the MGM Grand in May 2007.

Apparently McCain is a habitual gambler; he usually plays craps. He even says, “I am a gambling man.”

Gambling has tax implications. According to IRS Publication 17, “Your Federal Income Tax”, 2007 edition, page 89 “Gambling Winnings. You must include your gambling winnings in income on Form 1040, line 21. If you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), you can deduct gambling losses you had during the year, but only up to the amount of your winnings.” In other words, you can’t subtract your losses from your winnings and just not report. You have to report the winnings, and then claim the losses.

But McCain’s tax returns say nothing about gambling winnings or losses.

As a casino gambler, McCain is likely to have lost more than he won. But by not reporting his winnings, the different percentage calculations built into the tax calculation are thrown off, and if he gambled much at all, he has underpaid his tax. The amount of understatement of tax may be minimal, but that’s not the point.

The real purpose of preparing his tax return and omitting the gambling winnings is so that people would not know how much he gambled. If he won $200,000 playing craps in Las Vegas, it would make a difference in the way voters viewed his suitability as a presidential candidate.

There are circumstances under which the tax returns could be correct, such as McCain gambled once in 2007, not at all in 2006, and lost everything the one time he gambled. Such an explanation is unlikely in light of McCain’s alleged long history of gambling.

I think we are looking at tax returns calculated to hide an aspect of the candidate. My 35 years of experience in taxes tells me these tax returns are wrong, and we do not know the true scope of McCain’s gambling or of his potential obligations to gambling enterprises.

Source: HP